If you’re traveling over Thanksgiving, you’ll have even more company than last year.
AAA predicts that 50.9 million Americans will travel over the holiday, a 3.3 percent increase over 2016 and the most since 2005. The auto club credits a growing economy and low unemployment for putting people in the traveling mood.
More than 45 million will travel by car between next Wednesday and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the auto club said Thursday. About 4 million will fly, a 5 percent increase.
AAA and research firm IHS Markit base their forecast on recent and predicted growth in the economy, consumer spending, household wealth and other measures.
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Road trips will cost more, however. The national average for a gallon of regular is $2.56, up from $2.16 a year ago.
Car-rental rates are also higher than last year, and so are many hotel rooms, according to AAA. But average airfares on the most popular routes within the U.S. will be the lowest in five years, the group says.
Separately, trade group Airlines for America expects the busiest air-travel day to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving, followed by the Wednesday before it.
Here are some tips from experts on how to handle the stress of traveling over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays:
Apps like those from AAA and GasBuddy can help you avoid traffic snarls and find the cheapest gasoline.
If you’re flying, take early flights. Lines at security checkpoints tend to be shorter in the early morning, and flight delays build during the day, which can lead to missed connecting flights in afternoon and evening hours.
In the northern California area, Caltrans is encouraging drivers traveling to or through the mountains this holiday to be prepared for winter driving conditions.
Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, heater, and exhaust system are all working and in good condition.
Check your antifreeze and be ready for cold temperatures by adding concentrated windshield washer fluid to the reservoir to prevent an icy windshield.
You should check your tires and make sure they are inflated and the tread is in good condition.
It is a good idea to take water, food, warm blankets, and extra clothing.
Always keep updated road conditions. You can call Caltrans Highway Information Network at (800) 427-7623.
Caltrans encourages drivers to allow enough time to reach your destination, keep your gas tank full, keep your windshield and windows clear, slow down, and be more observant while traveling through the holiday.
You can check current highway conditions at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi as you travel.